September 4, 2009

Digital to physical

In a world that is becoming increasingly digital it’s interesting to see companies realising how physical experiences are what customers really want. Take the example of Mission Bicycle, a unique company based in San Francisco that sells custom fixed gear bikes where each bicycle is made to order from a combination of stock parts. As reported on the PSFK blog “they recently opened up a physical retail location designed to mimic the look and user experience of the Mission Bicycle website – giving physical presence to a digital brand”. Check out the video below or read the full story.

Need more proof of the physical revival? Take the Nike Chalkbot project developed for the Tour de France. It wasn’t long ago that people would have been amazed to see their message appear in a digital space. That is so last year!

alg_believeBeing able to remotely write a message on the road has somehow captured the imagination in a more tangible way.

In some ways the upcoming full-body game controllers are an extension of this return to physical. People want to feel what they are doing and being able to use your whole body to experience a game (like in this video for Project Natal) is the closest you will get to the real thing. Maybe the kid should actually go out and skateboard but maybe he lives in a scary neighbourhood.

Meanwhile, in Japan, researchers have developed touchable holograms. Using jets of air someone can feel as if they are actually touching a virtual object. Check out this video. Technology that makes digital more human can only be a good thing. Soon we’ll actually be going out to meet our friends rather than stay at home and network with them via Facebook. Welcome to the brave old world.